LA Galaxy forward Landon Donovan has hailed fellow MLS star Thierry Henry ahead of what could be the final matchup between two of the league’s biggest names.
The all-time leading scorer in MLS, Donovan is on his farewell tour after announcing in August that he is set to retire at the end of the season, while 37-year-old Henry, whose New York Red Bulls contract expires at the same time, is also mulling his future.
With their club sides facing off on Sunday at the Stubhub Center, the match will likely be the last time the pair meet, post-season notwithstanding, and the ex-Everton loanee is eager to take on one of the legends of the game as his career winds down.
‘I think sometimes we forget how special his career's been,’ he told MLSsoccer.com.
‘When you're caught up in the moment and you're caught up in the next game, you just see him as an opponent that you're trying to figure out and stop, but when you think about it historically, it's pretty special that we get a chance to play against him.
‘I'm certainly not in awe of him [while we're] playing, but when you step back before or after the game and look at what he's done, it's pretty amazing. It's special that we get to play against him.’
MLS has arguably seen the best of Henry this season since his arrival from Barcelona in July 2010, the Frenchman recording nine goals and 13 assists in 26 appearances, with his creativity helping strike-partner Bradley Wright-Phillips top the scoring charts in the process.
Boasting 24 strikes so far, Wright-Phillips could well surpass the regular-season scoring record of 27 with five games left, but Donovan believes that the Arsenal icon deserves a great deal of the credit should it be broken.
‘Clearly, Bradley Wright-Phillips is sort of unstoppable right now,’ he said. ‘We're going to try to stop him, and I think people sort of, if you can even say this, are overlooking the way Henry's played and the service he provides Wright-Phillips.
'It's one of those things where I think Henry still draws so much attention, that it gives Wright-Phillips the opportunity to just float, get in good spots and get in front of the goal.
‘I think he's meant a lot to French football, he meant a lot to Arsenal, and he's meant a lot to the Red Bull,’ he added. ‘He's brought them back to prominence after a long time of not being really prominent on the national scope. It's been impressive what they've done there with him, and I'm going to try to enjoy the last encounter.
‘Hopefully, it's not the last time, though. Hopefully, they see us again [at the MLS Cup final] in December.’